Categories
Books

Beyond Entrepreneurship by Jim Collins

The Rabbit Hole is written by Blas Moros. To support, sign up for the newsletter, become a patron, and/or join The Latticework. Original Design by Thilo Konzok.

Key Takeaways

  1. You must start this when you’re small or the inertia will be too hard to overcome
  2. Great companies have sustainable cash flows, are admired and respected, have a huge impact on the industry, and have duration (100+ years)
  3. Leadership Style
    1. Sincere, a multiplier (others will copy), charisma does not equal leadership, develop your own style, relentlessly seeks the truth
    2. Effective corporate leadership consists of 2 parts: leadership function and leadership style. The function of leadership – the number-one responsibility of a leader – is to catalyze a clear and shared vision for the company and to secure commitment to and vigorous pursuit of that vision. This is a universal requirement, no matter your style (which is unique to the individual)
    3. Decisive – zero in on what truly matters, use your intuition, every decision better than no decision, adapt with new info, disagreement opens door to better decision making, push decisions as far down as possible, be clear about which type of decision process (group vs. autocratic)
    4. Focus –  1 priority at a time, manage your time and not your work, can force yourself to be better at this by working less (!)
    5. Personal Touch – touching the medium, build long-term win/win relationships with all stakeholders, handwritten notes, informal communication, be accessible, little hierarchy
    6. Hard/Soft people skills – leader as teacher/mentor/guide, high expectations + high support, positive feedback
    7. Communication – always keep vision top of mind, use images / analogies, speak with normal conversational words and be authentic, present bad news openly and transparently
    8. Ever Forward – energy, growth, hard work, optimistic, tenacity, never ‘enough’, never stop
  4. Vision
    1. Core values / beliefs – forms the basis of extraordinary human effort, context for strategic and tactical decisions, creates cohesion / teamwork / community, lays the groundwork for the company to evolve past a few key individuals
    2. Purpose – why you exist, 100 year north star
    3. Mission – bold, achievable, timeline
      1. Targeting, common enemy, role model, internal transformation
    4. Must be clear and shared
  5. Strategy
    1. Methodology to achieve the mission
      1. Strategy must descend directly from your vision
      2. Strategy must leverage the strengths and unique capabilities of your company – do what you’re good at
      3. Strategy must be realistic
        1. Strategy should be set with the participation of those who are going to be on the line when it happens
    2. 3-5years, 3-5 priorities, <3 pages
    3. Focus –
    4. Tactical Excellence + Innovation
  6. Innovation
    1. Creativity isn’t the problem, it’s how to nurture the creativity all around us and getting that acted upon and turned into innovations
    2. Be receptive to ideas from anywhere – trade shows, travel, expert talks
    3. “being” the customer – field test the products or services, solicit feedback
    4. Experimentation and mistakes
    5. People being creative – educational training, books, hire some creative misfits
    6. Autonomy and decentralization – shared vision is crucial, facilitate the transferring of knowledge between all people / units, have an open system, avoid matrix structures
    7. Rewards – must reward creative contribution, make heroes of the creative contributors, set measurable innovation goals, separate career track for creative contributors, compensate people, 20% time
  7. Tactics
    1. Hiring – values, reference docs
    2. Inculturating – starter kit, internal memos
    3. Training
    4. Goal-setting – specific
    5. Measuring – track performance, identify barriers, remove, repeat
    6. Appreciating – informal, awards / recognition, financial (dinners, spot bonuses)
  8. Company Dashboard
    1. Cash flow, both current and projected
    2. Financial accounting info
    3. Cost information
    4. Sales info
    5. Customer info

What I got out of it

  1. The first 100 pages or so are worth reading and re-reading for anybody interested in business, leadership, culture, quality
Categories
Books

Good to Great: Social Sectors by Jim Collins

The Rabbit Hole is written by Blas Moros. To support, sign up for the newsletter, become a patron, and/or join The Latticework. Original Design by Thilo Konzok.

Summary

  1. We need to get rid of the barrier between business and the social sector and instead focus on a framework for greatness
Key Takeaways
  1. Unlike normal businesses, money is only an input, not an output, for the social sector
  2. Performance must be measured relative to mission, not financial returns
  3. Greatness is an inherently dynamic process, not an end point
  4. To measure performance, finding the perfect indicator is not what’s important, what is important is settling upon a consistent and intelligent method of assessing your put results and then tracking your trajectory with vigor
  5. Leadership only exists if people follow when they have the freedom not to
  6. Drew Buscareno, executive director at the Center for the Homeless in South Bend, IN was featured
What I got out of it
  1. Good read and I think a good way of looking at the social sector – should be judged on different criteria (it’s mission rather than finances) but the greatness principles still apply
Categories
Books

Good to Great by Jim Collins

The Rabbit Hole is written by Blas Moros. To support, sign up for the newsletter, become a patron, and/or join The Latticework. Original Design by Thilo Konzok.

Summary

  1. Collins’ seminal book on the shared characteristics of great companies as well as what sets them apart from the merely good. Collins demonstrates that good companies can become great and how they went about doing so.
Key Takeaways
  1. Seven vital aspects of going from good to great
    1. Level 5 Leadership – great leaders tend to be self-effacing, quiet, reserved, shy and have a blend of personal humility and professional will
    2. First Who, Then What – get the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus and the right people in the right seats – then figure out where to drive
    3. Confront the Brutal Facts – must maintain unwavering faith that you can and will prevail in the end and at the same time have the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality
      1. Lead with questions, not answers
      2. Engage in dialogue and debate, not coercion
      3. Conduct autopsies, without blame
      4. Build “red flag” mechanisms
    4. The Hedgehog Concept – understand what is essential and ignore the rest
      1. What you can be the best in the world at
      2. What drives your economic engine
      3. What you are deeply passionate about
    5. A Culture of Discipline – When you have disciplined people, you don’t need hierarchy, you don’t need bureaucracy and you don’t need excessive controls
    6. Technology Accelerators – technology should never be the primary means of igniting a transformation
    7. The Flywheel and the Doom Loop – going from good to great takes time but once the momentum is achieved it takes off
  2. Good is the enemy of great
  3. Findings:
    1. Larger than life CEOs are negatively correlated with taking a company from good to great
    2. No noticeable pattern between executive compensation and a company going from good to great
    3. Strategy per se did not separate the good from the great
    4. Great companies focused as much on what not to do as what to do
    5. Technology can accelerate a transformation but technology cannot cause a transformation
    6. M&A plays virtually no role in igniting a transformation
    7. Great companies had no “launch event” to motivate people or signify the transformation
    8. Great companies put little effort into motivating people – alignment was already there
    9. Great companies were by and large not in great industries and some were in terrible industries
  4. Making companies great is largely a matter of conscious choice
  5. Three broad stages – disciplined people, disciplined thought, disciplined action
  6. Great leaders set their companies up for success long after they’re gone
  7. Great companies have rigorous culture, not ruthless – this is a very important distinction
    1. When in doubt, don’t hire. Keep looking
    2. When you know you need to make a people change, act
    3. Put your best people on your biggest opportunities, not your biggest problems
  8. Many companies and startups fail because they respond poorly to growth and success
  9. The purpose of bureaucracy is to compensate for incompetence and lack of discipline
  10. Give people freedom, but freedom within a framework
  11. Create a “stop doing” list
  12. It takes discipline to say no to big opportunities. The fact that something is a “once in a lifetime” opportunity is irrelevant if it doesn’t fit within the hedgehog framework
  13. Never be satisfied. You can be delighted, but never satisfied. 
  14. Small changes over time have tremendous results
  15. In order to be enduringly great, you must have core values, build them explicitly into your organization, and preserve them over time
  16. It is much easier to become great than to remain great
  17. Greatness doesn’t depend on size
  18. It is not harder to build something great than something good – what it does require is clarity and conscious decisions into what it takes to be great
What I got out of it
  1. Really good read and case study in what it takes to transform